Favorite Books of 2018
29 books and about 10,000 pages. Once again I fell short of my target of reading a book every week, but it’s almost identical to last year’s reading stats. Here’s some of my favorite books of the year.
Mindset (Carol S Dweck)
Anyone who thinks, “I don’t have the talent to learn…” ought to read this book and understand the concept of the growth mindset. It shows the impact of treating your skills as something you can develop rather than something you’re born with.
This was an important read for me this year. It’s a great, short read on mentoring, consisting of essays from Harvard Business Review. It highlighted things I could do to get more out of mentors, and what I’ve been doing wrong when mentoring others.
99 Bottles of OOP (Sandi Metz, Katrina Owen)
A few months ago, I attended Sandi Metz’s fantastic Object Oriented Design course, which took us through the topics covered in this book. On the surface, the book is about writing a program to print a silly song. But the amount of complexity that it unearths in such a simple problem is astounding. It takes you through a refactoring journey, explaining every step along the way, almost as if you’re pairing with the authors.
It’s great for every experience level. For beginners, it will teach you about refactoring, testing and writing great code. And for more experienced folks, it will expose the bad habits you’ve picked up over the years.
The Way of Kings (Brandon Sanderson)
This was an incredible book. I was looking for a good epic fantasy series after finishing The Wheel of Time series. I raced through the 1200+ pages, finishing the final 400 pages in a single sitting. I’m constantly amazed by the many different worlds and magic systems that Sanderson has created. Highly recommended for fans of epic fantasy, especially Wheel of Time fans.
The Devotion of Suspect X (Keigo Higashino)
It’s an unconventional detective story, because it starts by telling us who committed the crime. The rest of the book is about the suspect covering up their tracks. Yet it manages to lull you into thinking where the story is going before throwing up unexpected plot twists. The characters were one-dimensional, but it makes up for it with a gripping storyline, and almost makes you root for the suspect.
Artemis (Andy Weir)
The Martian is one of my favorite sci-fi novels, so I’ve been excited about this second book by Andy Weir. It’s not at the same level as The Martian, but has elements I liked in that one: the science it touches upon is very plausible, and the plot maintains a frenetic page. The setting has moved from Mars to a human colony on the Moon, and the protagonist is basically a female version of the one from The Martian - a resourceful, wisecracking character in trouble far away from Earth.
The Emperor’s Soul (Brandon Sanderson)
This is a fantastic novella. Sanderson manages to build an entire new world and magic system in just 175 pages. Highly recommended for Sanderson fans.
Mistborn: The Alloy Era series (Brandon Sanderson)
This is made up of the 4th to 6th books in the Mistborn series - The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, and The Bands of Mourning. The first Mistborn trilogy was set in a medieval world, while this one is set 300 years later. Here the same world has evolved to the Industrial Age, with railroads, electricity and guns.
This felt a bit different from the original trilogy - parts of it feel like a suspense novel as much as a fantasy one. It also revealed a lot more about the Mistborn world’s connection to the rest of the Cosmere Universe - the shared universe in which all of Sanderson’s worlds exist.
Almost every year, I give myself a target to finish 52 books, ie. a book every week. For 2019, I’m trying a less ambitious target of 30. I think this will also be the year I switch to reading ebooks more that printed books. I finally got myself a Kindle Oasis. That should make it easier to read while traveling.